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Visiting the CERN

Old Feb 15th, 2012, 06:17 PM
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Visiting the CERN

Hello out there-has anyone toured the CERN? We are trying to plan a trip to surprise our daughter who is about to embark on her long journey to becoming an Astrophysicist. We are thinking our visit will be late May/early June. We would just like to hear from anyone who has been to the CERN & your impressions of the tour. We will have about 5 days(not including travel time) so would also appreciate any advice on things to do in the surrounding areas(Switzerland or France). Daughter loves beautiful scenery, quaint villages & good food-she also speaks enough French to be a help. Not sure whether we will be flying in & out of Zurich or Geneva just yet and if needed, will have a rental car(but prefer train travel).

Thanks in advance for taking the time to reply.
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 12:11 AM
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Sounds like a great surprise. I haven't been but have heard good things while I was in graduate school from students in that area of study. Check out reviews below:



http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attract...es-Geneva.html
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 05:46 AM
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I haven't taken a tour, but I work at CERN and know people who have taken a tour. The static displays at Microcosm and in the Globe are pretty cool with many examples of old detectors and computer components as well as theoretical information. They aren't as interactive as many contemporary science centers, but I've seen slow improvement. When it is working my favorite display is the spark chamber which lights up as cosmic rays pass through (it wasn't working last time visited).

Most importantly you should make sure you get a tour stopping by the Atlas control room and possibly other places around CERN. Most people remark on how underwhelming the surface buildings at CERN look, so if you visit you at least have to see a control room to get a taste of the technology hidden inside and underground. They should be taking data when you visit, so the control room will be fully manned but tours of the underground detector halls and accelerators are out of the question (even during a shutdown like right now a tour going underground would be hard to get).

As for nearby scenery I would suggest visiting the Interlaken (Switzerland) area and getting up high either via the Schilthorn cable cars, Jungfrau train, or the lake near Kandersteg (haven't been there but a friend says he had a great time with a rented row boat). I'm not sure how much snow will still be around at that time. The cable car up to Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix (France) is also very impressive. People seem to either love or hate the 'quaint' Gruyere area. Montreux and the nearby castle are nice. Lucerne (Sw) and Annecy (Fr) are pretty towns. If you are serious about food you probably need to go to Lyon (Fr). The trains in Switzerland are great, but a car can be useful when traveling into France around here. Everything in Switzerland is expensive.
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 05:52 AM
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aww - ever see Edward Witten, my son's hero, at CERN? Thanks for the details as I also want to visit CERN on my next European trip.
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 09:33 AM
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PalenQ, nope, I haven't seen him. There are some "famous" people such as Hawking (and Witten, too) that have come to CERN to give a presentation. But if you don't work at CERN and you are famous enough you don't hang out in the crowed cafeteria or have time to wander through my building randomly (CERN is a pretty large place).
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 04:46 PM
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aww-thanks so much for your helpful information & insight! I can't wait to tell our daughter that someone who actually works at CERN answered my questions-she will be impressed!! Of course I can't tell her until the surprise has been revealed. We are getting so excited-visiting CERN has been one of her dreams since middle school. Thanks again! If you think of anything else that would be helpful, it would be most appreciated.

jt-thanks for the link & yes, we hope it will be a great surpise. Now if we can just keep the secret until graduation!
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 05:14 PM
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Yes, I have visited the CERN and it is very interesting. It was an obligatory visit at engineering school.
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